Julia Robinson

Girth Hitch, Slippery Hitch & The Lusty Month of May, 2017

My practice reflects ongoing research into ancient, yet enduring, ceremonies and folklore that pertain to fertility, the harvest and calendric rites. Much of my work has drawn on world mythology, religion, ritual and superstition as a means of examining death and the afterlife. While these sources are still fundamental to my research, the rituals and stories I now chase for inspiration are those that are infused with an air of sexual candour or that invoke motifs of fertility and resurrection.

Recently, the work seems to hold at its heart the labour-intensive technique of hand-sewn smocking and the motif of the gourd: a strange fruit, often strikingly phallic in shape, that does not decay and has given rise to many auspicious connotations.

In Chinese culture, for example, the gourd is particularly esteemed, being associated with longevity, good fortune and a plethora of progeny, but it also appears in traditional European costume and ritual. Works such as Girth hitch and The lusty month of May combine the gourd with elements of historical costuming and adornment, allowing me to extrapolate on these other lifelong obsessions.

When I engage with worlds outside my studio I do so vicariously, generally locked in my own space and exploring these territories only notionally. As such, the resulting works are an expression of a personal, yet geographically remote, connection to such rituals in the only authentic way currently available to me. They become almost imagined relics from intuited rituals, transmitted from afar. 

Julia Robinson is a South Australian visual artist working in the field of sculpture and installation. Her work reflects an interest in religion, the afterlife and death, and in how humans address these concerns through ritual. Drawing on established belief systems and a multitude of sources including myths, fairy tales, and European superstition and folklore, Julia examines our discomfort with the finality of death. Recent works draw on depictions of harvest and fertility rituals in folk horror films such as The Wicker Man (1973) and Wake Wood (2011). Since graduating from Adelaide Central School of Art, Julia has exhibited regularly and been the recipient of a number of grants and awards. Recent exhibitions include: Versus Rodin: Bodies across space and time at the Art Gallery of South Australia; Long Ballads at Ideas Platform, Artspace; The Song of Master John Goodfellow at Greenaway Art Gallery; Structure for navigating an unknown afterlife at Art Pod; and One to rot and one to grow at the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia. Julia is currently lecturing at Adelaide Central School of Art. Her work is held in the Art Gallery of South Australia, Artbank and in private collections. Julia Robinson is represented by GAGPROJECTS.

Image: Girth Hitch, Slippery Hitch & The Lusty Month of May, 2017, Photo: Courtesy of Town Hall Gallery, Booroondara Arts